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Raising The Bar: The Cocktail Essentials

Elevate your cocktail making skills this festive season with these bar cart essentials.

Most of us break out the cocktails at this time of year - 'tis the season, after all - so why not do it in style? 

A well-appointed bar cart (or drinks cabinet) doesn't just look good, it makes everything so much easier. With that in mind, we've rounded up some top bits and pieces to have to hand before you start shaking and stirring this Christmas. 

The secret weapon

Craft Cocktails, whose founder Dave Mulligan recently won the Food&Wine Innovator of the Year award, take the hard work out of creating cocktails at home. The core range has classics like a Mai Tai and a Daiquiri, but the limited-edition Christmas collection, which includes a Festive Old Fashioned and Gingerbread Punch, is hard to resist. The large bottles (serves seven) are €35 each while smaller bottles (two serves/€12.50) make excellent gifts.

The finishing touch

If you’re thinking of investing in new glassware, Co Wateford’s J.Hill’s Standard has some gorgeous options including the Champagne glass below (€170). It’s part of the Elements series designed by Scholten & Baijing and each piece features cuts and textures of varying intensity to create a landscape of layered pattern on the glass. A modern classic.

The toolkit

Add a touch of sleek professionalism to proceedings with this marble-based cocktail set, €54 from M&S. Full of cocktail-making essentials including a Hawthorne cocktail strainer, muddle, bottle opener and a two-sided measure it’s also stylish enough to adorn any bar cart.

The show-stopper

Prefer a whiskey-based concoction, like an Old Fashioned or a Whiskey Sour? Show your favourite
uisce beatha off in fine style with a cut glass decanter. The dramatic beauty below is part of the Lismore Black collection from Waterford Crystal. Square decanter, RRP€350, and tumblers, RRP€180 for two.

The Inspiration

Craft Cocktails by Monika Coghlan is a beautiful book of cocktails created with some of Ireland’s best artisan spirits. There's everything from gin- and whiskey-based drinks to something a little more unusual, including apple brandy, which is used in the recipe below. The book is available from and selected stores nationwide including Brown Thomas, Meadows & Byrne, and Industry & Co.

One to try: Sugar & Spice

30ml Longueville House Apple Brandy 
25ml port
15ml thyme & cinnamon syrup
20ml lemon juice
Sprig of thyme, to garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a  sprig of thyme. 

Recipe by Darren Hogarty & Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Dublin.  Taken from Craft Cocktails by Monika Coghlan.

Main pic: Sugar & Spice cocktail by Monika Coghlan